This cigar is a 109, the classic bullet tipped double corona, and currently it has no band. It was sent to me in late 2009 with no explanation, and when I enquired I was told that “it may be an Edmundo Dantes that I took the band off, but I do recall being sent a 109 but I forget what the storey was. I think it was some sort of special.”
There are eleven possible cigars that this could be, and straight away I can eliminate the Romeo 130th Anniversary 109s, as while these are supposedly a 109 size, they lack the bullet tip that 109s traditionally have (more on these later). I also think I can eliminate the old Ramon Allones Gigantes 109, as that was discontinued in 1976, and this cigar seems fresher than that. It seems fresher to me too than either of the Partagas 109s from their 1995 and 2000 anniversary humidors, but I can’t outright dismiss them. My source has a predilection for removing unique or unusual bands, a habit that certainly fits with the two Partagas and the Edmundo Dantes, but not so much with the other remaining 109, the 2009 German regional.
Therefore, I conclude that this is probably an Edmundo Dantes El Conde 109. Or possibly a Partagas anniversary. Or perhaps a custom, or a Partagas mafia special (more on these later). Heck, maybe it’s a Nicaraguan. Do they make 109s? (humour).
Perhaps over the course of this review my finely honed aficionado pallet will be able to provide an answer?
It’s an odd duck, the Edmundo Dantes El Conde 109, and caused quite a stir on its release. Traditionally when commissioning a regional release the distributors are allowed to choose from the second tier brands: no Cohiba, no Romeo, no Upmann, and no Montecristo (and rightly so, as were this restriction not in place I’m certain that the regional release program would quickly degenerate into a dozen or so Cohiba giant perfectos being released every year). This cigar, of course, is not a Montecristo, but an Edmundo Dantes, a new brand with bands and packaging almost identical to that of Montecristo, and named after the central character in The Count of Montecristo, the same namesake as the Montecristo Edmundo. I have heard no official explanation from Habanos S.A. as to why Mexico was allowed to release a regional faux Montecristo, although I’ve seen “copyright reasons” bandied about as the reason for the Edmundo Dantes brand (an excuse that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, as I’m fairly sure they sell normal Montecristo cigars in Mexico). The reviews though have been universally excellent, and it’s a sought after collectors cigar for both its quality and novelty.
The cigar begins beautifully, velvet full cream milk from the first breath. Really wonderful, the best beginning I remember from a cigar in years. It’s viscous that cream note, raw full fat. Honestly it overpowers even the taste of the tobacco. There’s the slightest spice on the back pallet.
I’m on the deck at the Groom compound, and it couldn’t be nicer. A full open blue sky and just a whisper of gusty sea breeze. I am wearing a shirt, but not one button is buttoned. What a glorious day for a glorious cigar.
I have a beer by my side, steadily warming in the sun, and honestly I’m loath to open it as I don’t want to contaminate my pallet. It’s a Matilda Bay Fat Yak pale ale, probably the beer that has benefited most from the trend toward a higher class of beer that has been seen in Australia (and worldwide) in the last five years or so. When I were a lad we drank Carlton Draught, pure and simple, or perhaps a Coopers if you were deep in the heart of bohemia. Nowadays Fat Yak flows from every tap, and much else besides, and it’s not unusual that I enter a pub and am confronted with a slew of beers I’ve never seen before. I rail against connoisseurism in beer; beer to me is a working man’s drink, a simple low alcohol relaxant to sip on after work in order to remove a few stresses from the day and stop you going home to beat your wife. Real drinkers, real connoisseurs, and indeed, real wife beaters, should distil beer to its essence, to whiskey, if they want to be serious about something. Even as far as beers go I don’t care too much for Fat Yak (it’s too hoppy), but it’s hard to argue that it’s not an improvement on Carlton.
I didn’t bother to bring out an ashtray, and have been resting the cigar on the table edge, or the bottle cap, or whatever other detritus happened to be at hand, and the occasional gusts of wind have frequently sent it rolling (to my great distress). That is until I realised the great advantage of the 109’s unique conical top: it sits perfectly in the neck of a beer bottle.
It’s a good size the 109. Basically a Churchill but with a little bit of character. There were a lot more of them in the old days – the Partagas Lusitaniasused to be one – but they died out at some point. They’re on the way back in now, appearing from time to time as regionals or other limiteds, which brings us to our central question: is this an Edmundo Dantes or something else? Halfway through it is all mild, toasted tobacco. No spice at all, some earthy overtones, a little bean. It’s a first class cigar, that’s for certain, and certainly reminiscent of the better Monte ELs, the Grand Edmundo et al, but it doesn’t have what I would describe as the classic Montecristo flavour.
With two inches to go it goes out, and I relight it. The burn has been acceptable, but a little erratic the whole way through. This is the first extinguishment, but I’ve had to touch it up several times as the coal began to core. There is some ash and bitterness on the relight, but not much for a cigar this size. A great cigar. A classic.
What a way to spend a morning. I won’t lie; I removed my shirt some hours ago, and have been strutting up and down the deck like a pallid pasty lion, a hubris I’ll no doubt suffer for later on. Perhaps a gazelle more than a lion. I’m sorry, I’ve been reading Teddy Roosevelt’s book about big game safaris.
In the final moments the nicotine appears, although the tar is still very mild, with no bitterness. It has been more than two and a half hours since I lit up. I usually find that in the normal course of things I tend to smoke too quickly, and the cigar grows too hot, but when I’m taking frequent breaks to wax lyrical in these reviews it slows me down and the experience is much improved for it.
All good things must come to an end, and as the cigar begins to burn my fingers, I reluctantly heave the nub out into the highly flammable tea-tree.
Was this an Edmundo Dantes El Conde 109? Well, I wouldn’t bet money on it, but yes, I think it was. I’ll have to find another to compare.
Whatever it was, it was nonetheless an excellent cigar, and the better of anything I’ve smoked thus far for this blog; better than a Monte 4, better than a Monte Sublime, and better even than the Dunhill Selección No. 1. If you have the means I highly recommend you pick one up, whatever it is.